The Aeneid

Once upon a time (1991), in a land far far away (New Jersey), I spent an entire school year translating half the epic Latin poem The Aeneid, by Virgil. We only did books 1 through 6, but not 7 through 12 – that’s how epic it is. When I think back on what I consider to have been a major accomplishment of my life, I regret that I would not be able to undertake the same mission now. Aeneas himself gives me courage; just as he left the comfortable bosom of Dido in Carthage to continue his journey, I too can embark on a new adventure (probably not as a Latin translator, though).

Here are the opening lines from Book 1, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, copyright 1981

I sing of warfare and a man at war.
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days
He came to Italy by destiny,
To our Lavinian western shore,
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
Cruelly on land as on the sea
By blows from powers of the air -behind them
Baleful Juno in her sleepless rage.
And cruel losses were his lot in war,
Till he could found a city and bring hom
His gods to Latium, land of the Latin race,
The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome.
Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled
In her divine pride, and how sore at heart
From her old wound, the queen of gods compelled him -
A man apart, devoted to his mission - 
To undergo so many perilous days
And enter on so many trials. Can anger
Black as this prey on the minds of heaven?

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